Friday, September 11, 2009

Working Seven Days a Week

Agents often discuss how much we need to work just to keep up on the emails we’re getting. You’ve heard it before, so I won’t go too far into it, but frequently our job takes us into the wee hours of the night or the early hours of morning (depends on whether the agent is a night or morning person) and rarely do we have time during office hours to catch up on proposals, queries, or even the reading we’re required to do for our own clients. I’m not complaining, because honestly, I can’t imagine doing anything else. My work is also my hobby, which is why I have things like this blog. I could blog about other things, like my life outside of my job, my cooking, or even my dog, but my biggest passion is this job and so that’s what I blog about.

What I’m looking for today is perspective. I know many of you have a very clear understanding, from your regular reading of agent blogs, about the types of hours we work. I know many of you can vouch for the fact that a three or four a.m. email from me is not as uncommon as it should be, but what I’ve been wondering lately is how common is this? I know that as writers most of you have day jobs and writing is done in your off hours, so I’m not really thinking of those of you who are writers as a second career (hopefully first, one day), but those of you who have so-called day jobs. We live in a world of constant communication where emails from work are frequently sent and received well past dinnertime, and I’m wondering if your day jobs also require you to work weekends and nights, because in my experience in publishing, as an editor and agent, it’s not an option.

And if you are required to work nights and weekends in addition to 9 to 5, how do you possibly find time to write on top of that?



s.w. vaughn said...

Alas, I can only sympathize with you. All my "day jobs" have been retail or food service or other non-'human' hours - so I've never done the 9 to 5, Monday through Friday thing.

Now I write full time (novels and advertising copy) so it's seven days a week, all hours of the day and night, just like it's been since I started writing.

I wouldn't know what to do with a day off. :-)

Anonymous said...

I find it because I have to. This is my dream and I couldn't stop writing. I write nearly every day, holidays, weekends and whatever. I write long into the night, way past dawn at times and suffer the next day but then I repeat it over and over, sacrificing sleep, a clean house and other hobbies. I have not watched a single television show in over three years. That is writing time. I am never without a notepad and pen at the very least, laptop at the most.

Alexis Fleming said...

I find the time to write because I'd go insane if I didn't write. lol

I run a large motel. We live on the premises so the job is pretty much 24/7. In order to fit my writing in, my day starts at 5am. I hit the computer and answer email, do promo stuff and then get ready for work in the motel. From 7.30 am I'm busy with my day job. At 5.30 I hit the computer again and hubby takes over to give me writing time. He also cooks dinner every night to allow me to do that. The only TV I watch is the length of time it takes me to eat dinner, then it's back to the computer. I used to be able to sit up until 2 in the morning writing but I'm getting old. lol My body has betrayed me and I have to hit the sack by about 11pm. Then it's back to it again the next day.

This presupposes that the motel business, and the paperwork that accompanies it, isn't going to get in the way of my writing, but often during the busy season, we work until 11pm at night and then it's a quick dinner and off to bed. I've learned to be flexible and not to set impossible deadlines on myself because the motel business comes first. It's what allows me to write and head off overseas ever year for conference. Yes, it's frustrating at time, but I just go with the flow. What I don't write this week, hopefully I'll catch up on next week.

MAGolla said...

When I worked in a hospital (lab as a MT), one of the many shifts that I worked was 5 AM to 1:30 PM.
I woke up at 3:30 AM and got ready for work, feed the critters at about 4 AM and made coffee. From 4ish to 4:45 I wrote.
With a small writing window, I think you tend to concentrate better than when you have 'all day' to write the same amount of words. It's easier to get distacted. The dog needs letting out. The laundry needs folding, etc. Any little distraction takes away from the writing process.
I don't know if it is a blessing or a curse to have all the time in the world to write.

Anonymous said...

Interesting. I've juggled writing and demanding dayjobs for a long, long time with no problems ... until.

For a period of two years, I worked for a hellish employer who demanded 24/7 reachability (no, I wasn't in a life-or-death job like law enforcement or the medical field).

This bozo had no boundaries and wanted me to come back to work a week after surgery (doctor didn't clear me until three weeks), and called me daily to find out when I would be returning to work when my parent was in ICU on a vent.

On the day my grandparent died (the only surviving parent of my parent who was just a few months out of the hospital and off the vent), the boss demanded I attend a banquet that night.

It wasn't the hours with this job that got in the way of writing. It was the stress and the lack of respect. I had no mental space to write, and yet, I had deadlines and publishers waiting for work and contracts to honor.

I quit the job, found another dayjob and took a substantial paycut and finally I have the mental space to write. My dayjob is demanding, and I still work late hours in writing. But the balance is there.

MeganRebekah said...

Am I the only one who literally can't function without 8 hours of sleep? I've been getting about 6 hours a night this week and this morning I could not get out of bed. And not in a lazy, I'm still cozy way, but in a my eyes are glued shut and I can't move my legs way.

My 8-5 job now allows me time to write all evening. But I used to work a crazy, all hours of the day and night job and that was insane. I never would've been able to squeeze in writing, because the hours were so unpredictable.

Nayuleska said...

I'm fortunate I don't have to put in extra hours, evening hours or weekend hours in my job. Well, sometimes I end up staying later if a problem happens, or someone needs help, but generally I get to leave at 2pm. 9am-2am. An hour either side for commuting.

Right now I'm staying extra due to a printer problem (I work at a university, admin). Awaiting help. Technology!

angie mizzell said...

I was a TV reporter/anchor for years and worked crazy hours and wore a pager that constantly went off. Years later I had my own marketing business and a west coast client. I had my first child during that time and it was difficult to handle client calls and emails in the evening, but it was a must because they were still at work. And during those times, I didn't write much. I was just too tired and I was out of touch with the creative side of myself.

As technology advances, so does the expectation to be constantly available. I admire that you are doing what you love, so maybe that helps to keep the work load in perspective?

Today I freelance and am raising two small children and do my best (I don't always succeed) to set professional boundaries. Even still, my best writing ideas seem to come at 3am, and 5am still seems to be my most productive writing time, so go figure!

Steve Yates said...

I work at Starbucks pretty much full time since my husband got laid off. I work nights and weekends. Rarely days. I am often up writing until late especially during the summer.

I'm thrilled now that schools back in session because I have my days back. I try to be extra productive during these times. It's very frustrating though because I often have to take naps and to me that is time I could be writing. But heck. I can't live on 5-6 hours a sleep every night.

I know it's something everyone who works and writes goes through. There just doesn't seem to be enough time. Why can't we all just be independently wealthy? Ha ha.

Blazer67 said...

Fortunately, my day job is a straight 6:30am to 3:00pm with a little OT thrown in on occasion. The other job I have is more challenging: quality time with my four munchkins at home, all under 8 years old. It's a blur of activity once I get home, up though dinner time and then bedtime. Our youngest had a liver transplant earlier this year and that threw a wrench into things as well. I write in the evening when I can but I find I get most of my quality work done on my breaks and lunch at work.

Cathryn said...

I work nights and weekends for my day job (as well as 8-6), but fortunately it's not every week.

I write at 4am on weekdays and all morning on the weekends - the result is no social life beyond my husband and kids, no TV and a weed-infested yard, and, and, and...

H. L. Dyer said...

I'm a pediatric hospitalist physician (an inpatient specialist). I don't see kids in an office or do sports physicals; I see the kids who are truly ill and require hospitalization.

My shifts are ~28-hours long. For example, I began work yesterday at 7 am CST, and I'm still working. I'll probably wrap things up here early this afternoon. I work weekends, holidays, you name it.

But on the upside for my writing, I work only a few of these shifts a month. Full-time would be 8 shifts a month, I work 5 - 6, as I'm also the director of our program and have administrative duties as well.

Right now, though, we're short a full-time doc, so I'm working 36 hours on, 36 hours off for the next couple of months. I don't expect I'll be making much headway with my WIP until November. Boo.

Kristan said...

When I first graduated college, I worked a full-time job that went beyond 40 hr weeks. 8 to 5 became 8 to 6 became 9 to 6 (my attempt to control my hours HAH) became 9 to 6:30. To 7. To 7:30. By the time I got home, took care of my puppy, and ate dinner, I was exhausted and wanted nothing more to do with a computer or using my brain.

Obviously that was not going to work out for my writing.

So I asked for a demotion and was permitted to be a part-time administrative assistant. Best thing that ever happened to me! Now I can write at work, AND I work set hours (and only 30 a week), AND I'm not too tired to keep writing when I get home.

I really and truly admire the people who can do both -- work full time and write on the side -- but I had to take a hard look at what I really wanted out of life, and what I could really handle, and then I made my decision. It wasn't even close to easy -- it felt like failure -- but I'm so much happier now.

Buffy Andrews said...

I'm a newspaper editor so, yes, I'm always working. My mind never stops seeing stories. I'm often editing my reporters' copy from home, answering e-mails, writing e-mails etc. When I get up in the morning, I check my social networking sites, read many writer/agent/newspaper/friend etc. blogs, answer work e-mails (even before going to work) and try to write a little. At night after I get home from work (which is late), I try to write an hour. I wish I had more time, but it's my reality right now. I try to juggle the business of writing (sending queries, etc.) and the creative process (the actual writing) as best I can. The most difficult thing for me is dealing with the rejection. Believing in yourself and finding someone who believes in you and your work is incredibly difficult, even with having tons of writing experience. Anyway, those are my thoughts. Good luck to everyone.

Unknown said...

I started my novel 9 yrs ago in medical school, so I've been working on it through med school, residency, fellowship, and now in practice. While my hours have varied during that time, they always have included considerably more than just office hours.

Writing is a funny thing: for me it's the best form of escapism, and I find myself yearning to get back to that world, but it still drains me. But I find the time to write (or edit) simply because I have to, usually at night.

Kimber Li said...

Can't remember. It's been filed away as unimportant on my list of priorities. And that's how I do it. I prioritize everything in my life and create a schedule. I have four children, so I live on a 24 hour schedule. I just had a new baby, so carving back out my writing time is still a work in progress. But, I figure, mothers who work outside the home get Maternity Leave, so why not me?

Marie Devers said...

I think the real writers--and by that I don't mean the published, but the people who keep writing when the writing gets tough--seek a job that will blend with their writing life.

I write and edit for a content producer by day and write my own stuff from 6-8 in the morning and when I feel like it at night.

Yes, my real job leaks over into this precious writing time often, so I adapt. This means: getting by on 6 hours of sleep a night (if I'm lucky), taking longer to revise my novel than it really should take, and as Cathryn said--giving up socializing.

But as you said, I'm not complaining. Filling every waking minute of my life with words is what I want. I wouldn't change it for a thing.

Jenna Wallace said...

I do find that working on my novel is something I do 24/7, but not in a structured sitting-at-the-computer from ten to midnight way. Instead, I toss and turn for hours after going to bed because I am working in my head. With a job and two kids it seems it is the only time I have for quiet contemplation of my work in progress. It usually results in me furtively scribbling on a notepad in the dark, or jumping up and turning the computer back on to capture something critical.

Jodi Ralston said...

"And if you are required to work nights and weekends in addition to 9 to 5, how do you possibly find time to write on top of that?"

For a while? I simply didn't. I was working, for about 3 months in the range of 50-60 hours a week, usually around 55 or so. Didn't have time to write. The most I could do was write down an interesting idea in a notebook and wait for the day this temporary overtime went away.

Since I started a new job, I've only recently been able to start getting back into the swing of writing things.


Aryn said...

I am a lawyer, so my hours constantly spill over into the nights and weekends. So much so that my son was born 5 weeks' premature because I was trying to close a deal. Yuck. The problem is that the law is not my passion, nor even my hobby, and I pretty much hate my time spent doing legal work. But there are those pesky student loans to pay off...

Writing, however, is cathartic and a release from my day job. It is not like a job to me, but more of a therapy session.

Anonymous said...

Not only do I write, I also have a full time job and I'm a full-time student at a university.

My average day is about 8-9am to 2-3 am. I don't really sleep much. I wouldn't recommend this schedule to most people, but it's how I've slept since I was a teenager, so it works for me. (Also, husband works a sort of swing second/third shift, so our "dinnertime" is 1-2am.)

During a book project, especially the one I just finished a few months ago, sometimes I cut that sleep ratio down to about 3-4 hours a night for a week or so before I crash, hibernate for a day, and start over again.

Wendy Qualls said...

Right now, I nap while the baby naps and then write from midnight to 3 AM while she and my husband are asleep. I'm also writing from home for a company that does grammar workbooks and test prep material - and if I ever want to reach my boss, I have to be up at all sorts of weird hours because one day he's in Japan and the next day he's in Turkey. I've kind of carved out my little three-hour quiet block as "fiction writing time," though, and I try to stick to it unless I'm under a major deadline or the baby is sick.

Mira said...

Well, I don't know the answer to this question yet. Right now, I have a 9-5 job. In about a week and a half, I start grad school, and my 90 hour work week.

So, I'll have to let you know. :)

One fortunate thing about grad school - I'll be writing there. In my genre. So, I guess even though I'll be working hard, I'm lucky that, at the very least, I'll be practicing my craft while I do it.

I also want to say something else -creative pursuits are joyful and re-energizing. I've had times when I've been bone-deep exhausted, and writing completely wiped out all of that exhaustion.

Also, people who work hard in general are admirable. People who accomplish amazing things with that work are inspiring.

But it's important to have a balance in life, too. Work, creative pursuits, time with people, time for rest. Time for rest especially. Rest is very important for a writer. It gives the mind time to absorb things, and let them settle. Being TOO busy can work against a writer - writers need time to do nothing. Let the mind relax....

Livia Blackburne said...

I'm a graduate student, so no set hours. I try to work in lab as much as I can during the weekdays so I can write on Saturday and Sunday.

Diana said...

There is a Dilbert cartoon where the pointy-haired boss tells his staff that he was introducing flexible hours - they can work any hours they want to as long as they are always there Monday through Friday, from 9 to 5.

That's what my job was like as associate director of advancement communications at a medium-sized regional university. I was expected to be there from 8 to 5 to deal with coworkers and campus issues; but I couldn't get any writing done (and often, any alumni/donor interviews) during those hours, so it wasn't uncommon for me to be there from 5 to midnight or later, and on the weekends. Some weeks I know I worked 60 to 80 hours. It's just what needed to happen to get the job done.

That's why I found a different day job when I decided I wanted to do my own writing.

Josie said...

I have a 9 to 5 job and I do freelance proofreading for NYC publishers after hours to help pay the bills. It's hard to find the time to write, and tempting to give it up. I haven't figured out a happy balance between all this yet, but am working on it.

Sarah Ahiers said...

My dayjob is 9-5. I'm hourly as opposed to salaried so i can't work extra hours even if i wanted to. Which i don't. I don't get paid enough to work extra.

Marsha Sigman said...

I'm an accountant but I now have a job that is strictly 9-5 and I leave it at the door when the day ends. It was not always so in the past.

At least its a job that does not tap into my creative flow at ALL so I save it all for my writing.

I also do not understand this word 'sleep'? What is that? I black out for a few hours each night.

Anonymous said...

I'm a commerical litigation attorney and fraud examiner. My hours are whenever. (I got phone calls on my honeymoon and once argued a Motion via telephone conference while on a train on my one and only European vacation.) On top of that, I have 3 year old son and a husband who commutes into New York City (we live in northern New Jersey) and gets home late every night.
How do I write? Basically, it is my brain break. My husband and I write together. We brainstorm the stories together creating detailed outlines (usually late at night after little man is down). One of us does the first draft, the second takes the second draft with brackets and underlines to show changes, after around two or three rounds of that...which usually takes about year...we get a babysitter and go somewhere quiet to go through the manuscript line by line together. Its' a slow process. We do what we can, when we can. But, writing is a cornerstone of my marriage and I would not want it any other way. Someday our dreams of having a published novel will come true (we have publish short stories and things...but a novel is the dream). I want to believe that. And, if it does not, when we are old grandparents, we'll breakdown and self-publish for our grandchildren.

midnightblooms said...

I've been lucky in my jobs over the years as I've managed to land 8-5 office jobs. I did work once in a restaurant (never again!) but even then my hours were regular because I managed the night shift and was off on weekends.

Writing is far more enjoyable, and frustrating, to me than any job I've held. I have given up many things in order to have time to write, but I don't regret them at all. Writing is too much fun and far more rewarding.

Dave Andrews said...

From reading other people's comments it strikes me that I'm actually pretty lucky. I've fallen into a job where I work from 7am to 3pm, no overtime or weekends. However, all is not peaches and rainbows!

Once I get home, I have about a half hour to wind down from work, then my wife leaves for her nursing program, and I have to tend to my 2 year old boy. I've attempted to write and watch him at the same time, but for me, its just not feasible. Once he goes to bed I have about a half hour window to write, then my wife comes home and its quality time - part deux with her.

Finally around 10pm I can sit down and write, by which time I'm usually exhausted and brain dead, but I still do it until I reach my word count goal for the day.

All in all not the worse life, but not as conducive to writing as one might think.

Spy Scribbler said...

When I had a day job, I often slept only 3 or 4 hours a night (until I crashed). I worked non-stop, like, I was either teaching or writing. I didn't get to read much, which didn't help the writing. When my husband was in town, he'd take over all the silly "miscellaneous" things that must be done, for both us and the piano studio, and then I could get both sleep and some decent writing time in.

I was forced to close the day job, and I can't tell you how wonderful it is to have time to cook dinner, to have time to hang out with my niece, to have time to--I don't know--brush my cats. Go out with my best friend on her birthday.

I still spend 10 or 12 or 14 hours a day writing and reading, even though I get a part-time wage, LOL. Old habits die hard, and honestly, 10-14 hours a day doing something I love doesn't feel like a hardship at all.

ryan field said...

It's not easy. You just do what you have to do and try to have fun. I'm usually working until at least ten or eleven every night, in addition to working all day.

There is no such thing as a social life. That's what suffers.

And don't forget about all the time it takes to promote. While writing and keeping day jobs a lot of writers are promoting, too.

Debra L Martin said...

I have an 8-5 day job with a commute of 1.5 hours each way. By the time I get home at night, I'm pretty fried. My writing is done mostly on the weekend where at least I can have a few uninterrupted hours.

One good thing is that I write with a co-writer and it always perks me up with he sends me chapters and then I will do some writing at night. We just finished our second book and are plotting out our third.

Debra Lynn Shelton said...

I just read all the comments and am officially exhausted. All of these folks deserve medals. I've worked f/t most of my life until the past few years. I'm lucky to be writing f/t now, and am infinitely grateful for the opportunity. When I worked, I wrote when I could, but it was nothing like I do now. Writing is my whole world. Okay, that's a slight exaggeration. I do have a husband and kids and six cats, but for the most part, I'm fully immersed in my writing. And I couldn't be happier.

Dale Bishop said...

I just try to budget my time as best I can. It's not impossible to do. But there are sacrifices you have to make if you work full time and you want a writing career.

Charlotte said...

Coming at it from a slightly different angle - I've always had fairly demanding jobs (lots of late nights and travels), and writing was never a problem (I had no TV, no kids, and am content to not live in a spotless house)... until the blackberry and remote connections, that is. Now it's not even that my workload has increased, but it's been diluted into every single moment, and it's very difficult to give writing the energy and focus it demands. I'm also higher on the ladder, and my job is assumed by every one to be my priority.
I am seriously considering switching career, because I honestly do not manage to manage it :)

Anonymous said...

I find that it's about being able to say, "That's important. I'll do that." And, "That can be skipped."

I have published 8 commercial novels in the past 4 years while working full time (and during one of those years I was planning my wedding.) For most of that time, I was an assistant editor at Random House. Now I have an equally time-consuming day-job that I adore and put in very long hours at.

How do I fit it in? Well, I trim the fat of life. I cook a meal on Sunday night and eat it all week for dinner. I never allow my house to get dirty because there's no time to straighten it. I eat lunch at my desk and work through it. I don't have children and I'm not sure how they fit into this crazy picture.

I have only one hobby: writing. And I love it. I find time for it because to me it is what makes life worth living.

Gosh, does this sound grim? I don't mean it to. I love my life and wouldn't change a thing. But yes, it's hard to fit it in. However, I do believe you can--even if you love your day job.

Whenever I get down about how much time I put in at both of my jobs (which is how I think of them), I remember the stint when I worked at a local bakery. All of the bakers were immigrants who worked two jobs. In the morning, they baked, and in the evening they worked in other factories.

And then I remember exactly how blessed I am.

Trisha Leigh said...

I squeeze in an hour or two on weekday mornings before I go in. Hopefully 4-6 hours on Sat. and Sunday. All day on days off.

It works for me because I really only have 2 friends that live nearby, in addition to my husband and dogs. Sadly, it's my workout routine (and waistline!) that suffers.

Unknown said...

I have a full time job with an hour commute (each eay). I also have a two-year old toddler and a husband I love. I usually write after the baby goes to bed. Some nights I will stay up until 3am writing. When the baby was still nursing, it was great, because I'd get up for a 2am feeding, stay up and write, and then go to work. (Something about new-mom hormones allows you to function on very little sleep.) I usually get my best writing done on Friday or Saturday nights, when I can stay up until 2 or 3am, sleep until 7, and be reasonably functional all day.

If you love it, you do it. That's it.

S R Wood said...

I work full-time. I also run (for sanity) and am building a sailboat (sanity and fun). But I write to live, so I make time. For me that means early morning, for an hour before work:

Coffee, dawn, and the story. There's nothing better when it's going well.

Renee Pinner said...

As a Human Resource Manager for a municipality my office hours are generally 8 AM to 5 PM, but work often extends beyond those hours.
There are various projects, reports, presentations, etc. that require that "extra" effort to ge the job done right. But as they say, I guess that is why I get paid the "big" bucks...if only!
Add to my career, that I'm a wife and full-time mother to 3, part-time mother to 3 others and you have a very full life in which writing can't realistically be a priority (not until it buys groceries).
So, I write when I can. But I beg, borrow and steal those 2 to 120 minute increments every chance I get.

Amy said...

I used to be a tax accountant. Definitely nights & weekends, and it was pretty much my whole life from Jan 15 - Apr 15.

Now, I'm a stay-at-home mom, but my kids are getting older, and I'm finding time to write. I loved my old job, but I couldn't go back to it and write at the same time, at least not regularly. I'm hoping that I can generate enough income with my writing that I won't have to go back. I don't need a bestseller or anything, just "enough"!

Whidget said...

The biggest problem with trying to write and work to pay the bills is that writing well (for me) requires that I be in the mood to write. I have two kids under 3 years old, so being able to write when I want to is difficult. When you add to that my job (I am a lawyer) and my social activities, I will sometimes go months without writing.

But then, an idea hits. I can't sleep. I write all night long sometimes, even though I know I can't just sleep in. You're right--if writing (or doing what you do) isn't your passion, you will never find time for it.


Anonymous said...

Someone mentioned a writing buddy or a critique partner, and that's a critical thing for me. If I "owe" a CP a chapter ... if she's waiting on the next turn or twist of the story, then I find it easier to drag my sorry bones to my computer and write. Once I'm there, it's usually okay.

My writing block of time is from 10 p.m. to midnight (although lately I'm feeling every one of my 40 years and finding it hard to stay focused past 11 p.m.), the only time that I can be uninterrupted.

But after a full day's work (that sometimes run late and sometimes calls for attending after-hours work functions)and then doing the dinner-homework-bath-bedtime samba with my elementary school-aged child, it's tempting to not even LOOK at the computer.

So my CP is invaluable. Accountability is EVERYTHING.

Madison L. Edgar said...

I call myself "Accountant by day, Writer by night." Along with my job, I am a full-time graduate student. For me, it's not about finding the time to write. It's not an option, it's a necessity. When I sit down to write, I enter the world inside my story. Writing is my escape. Yes, there are times when I feel I have zero time to write, but that's when I end up awake at 3 and 4 a.m.

Erin M. Blakemore said...

Oh, don't you wish you knew. :) Actually (ironically? wonderfully?) I am a writer and run my busy marketing firm by day, so it's doubly difficult to switch modes. I sneak some work into lulls in my day job, but find I really tend to catch a second wind at night. The phone's off, my partner's ensconced in computer work or video games, and I'm far more focused than when my workaday cares are pressing in on me.

That said, I balance the two because I can't not write. Simple as that.

Anonymous said...

I used to manage a 24 hour gas station. I would generally work between 60 and 80 hours a week.

Thankfully, for my sanity's sake, that was before I started seriously pursuing a writing career. I would never have been able to find time to write. At least not and be able to keep up a normal social life.

Anonymous said...

As a full-time freelance jounalist/writer, I admire the folks who can hold down two or more jobs. But I think the structure of a paying job is so important--and you value your free time to write that much more.
Plus you're stimulated by the outside world. (Never mind cruel or unreasonable bosses, however.)

If it weren't for deadlines (actual and self-imposed), I doubt I'd get much done. So enjoy the roller coaster!

Rick Daley said...

I have to be very diligent with my time management. Fortunately, I work form home so I don't have cummuting time to deal with. I wake up early (most of the time) and write for 1-2 hours, then start working. All I need to do is turn my chair 90 degrees counter-clockwise. Or 270 degrees clockwise, if I'm feeling frisky.

Anonymous said...

I'm a criminal defense attorney, so yes, I work long hours, and often get woken in the middle of the night and on weekends.

I write when I can. I actually get a lot of writing done long hand in court, while waiting for my clients to be brought in. There's no reason for me to pay attention to what's going on with other attorneys' clients, so I write.

Similarly, I write at jails a lot, while waiting for clients.

So, while my job is very time intensive and stressful, there are moments of down time. I can't really do legal research while at court or jail, but I can definitely sketch out a scene or two.

Vacuum Queen said...

I used to teach, and the hours are good...and the 2 months off in summer was great. BUT, I really really enjoyed my job and so my mind was always spinning and thinking of new things and reading new research and trying new things. Emailing thoughts at 3am wasn't uncommon for me either. And I LOVED it.

Then I stopped to have children.

Then I KNEW I couldn't go back to teach, because I only wanted to do it if I could be "always on" like you are with agenting. I could've had shorter hours for sure, but it was a passion. I knew I couldn't do it until I had more time to devote to it.

So that's basically CAN'T do the world's greatest job at your day job AND write AND have a family. Something's gotta give. For me, it was the greatest day job, which I hope to return to when I can give it my full attention. I don't want to do a so-so job at it.

Jess Haines said...

I have two jobs (one 40 hours/week, one 30+ hours/week) on top of my writing career.

It's quite a balancing act. I do whatever I have to do in order to find time to write.

I do it because I like to, and because it's important enough to me to find the time.

Sarah J. MacManus said...

I know I've gotten emails from Kim at ridiculous hours. :)

I've made sure that I've only taken on work that will allow me my outside interests. Between the lit journal, the Little Episodes charity and my own writing, I make sure that my day jobs stays within the 8-5 parameters. I would change my mind if 1) there were a great deal more money in it, or 2) had any real great passion for it. Neither are true. It's a nice job with nice folks that pays just fine. But it's the epitome of the "day job". And I'm good with that.

Robena Grant said...

Back when I still had kids in high school and college, and a day job, I managed to produce two manuscripts a year while volunteering at the boy's high school and playing chauffeur. Yikes!
Then I quit the job, and both kids wandered off on their own, and I had all the time in the world to concentrate on writing. Funny thing is, I still don't get any more done than I did back then. Go figure.
I'm assuming with the freedom from all of the other constaints on my time I've become too relaxed. Back then I had no blogs to play around on, or other writing related fun stuff, I just wrote. Now I can spend half the morning playing. I know I work best when working to a deadline so maybe that's what I need, a contract. Ha ha.

Genella deGrey said...

I know what my puny email looks like on Mondays (a dumpsite for advertisements, so many loops it creates an afghan and party and live music invites that I totally missed because I just didn't bloody get online) - But I can't imagine what YOURS is like!

Lesli w/a Ainsley Macqueen said...

Roses, anyone?

I was a floral designer for 20 years.

I didn't get holidays off, worked through the nights so kids could have fresh flowers for prom, and all the lovely wedding weekends left me a zombie on the following Monday.

If I enjoyed that work as much as the written word, I would have never stopped.

But then I finally rented Phantom of the Opera and realized I'd sold writer's soul for some shiney design awards.

I closed my shop less than 2 months later and started reading and writing romance. A couple of months after that, I was pitching to Berkley!

Would I trade "eventually I'll publish" for assured floral industry fame? Not on your life.

Jemi Fraser said...

As a teacher, I generally work 10 - 11 hours a day at school. I sometimes bring marking home and I generally go into school for 4 or 5 hours on Sunday afternoons. Plus the usual taking care of home and family. Like many of you, I'm sleep deprived and lose the ability to think intelligently after 11 pm. But I'm happy :) I love my job, my family and my writing time!

Chris said...

The day job is just two 10-hour days for me, but other days, I'm practically tied to my laptop to write, blog, and market. I've become wiser about how to use my time. For example, I do less mentally taxing work like commenting at night and keep the bigger tasks for the days I'm free.

I listen to myself too. When I've had enough computer time, it's enough. The laptop is closed.

Jami said...

I work a phone based customer service job... And actually have a LOT of time for writing. I get there early in the morning, read some blogs while eating breakfast, sometimes squeeze some writing in there... two 15 minute breaks, a 30 minute lunch, and only a 10-15 minute commute (depending on how I hit the lights and if I get that idiot in front of me going 30 in a 45). Though I do love my cooking dinner, usually worst case scenario, I'm free by 8pm every day... And that's not counting the alternate Saturdays I work to have those Fridays off. Saturdays are dead, because most people don't even realize we're open (thank gods!), so I routinely end up with 10+ minutes between calls, in which really, all I have to do is either write, or read. :)

Stephanie said...

I work for a non-profit organization, so there are often evening and weekend hours. I also sit on a couple boards of directors, do a bit of dog rescue and run my own private dog training business.

I don't write every day, sometimes not even every week, but I find the time. My weekly writing group helps keep me on task. I occasionally use vacation days to write. Sometimes I give up sleep for a few days or weeks to keep momentum going or get through revisions. I do what I have to do because I want it badly enough.

Tara McClendon said...

I have a full-time job, I'm a mother and a wife. Add it up, I work three full-time jobs. I have scratched out sentences while waiting at red lights, scrawled notes on toilet paper, and filled in the blank space on the church bulletin.

Robena Grant said...

Jessica, congratulations on the fabulous interview for Ask the Pro in the October Writer's Digest. And that is also a lovely photo.

Unknown said...

I'm a lawyer by profession, although with 3 kids (born 3 under 3, my eldest now 5, and not at school yet), I chose to give up work last Christmas to be "mum" for a year. My job always leached well beyond 8.30-6pm - another reason to leave.

I also have a hobby making cards. I run classes and get involved in fundraisers. I find my cardmaking balances my writing. When my writing is at a low, my cardmaking brings the writing alive again.

Yet, law pays the bills, so I'm considering starting up my own practice. The one red light to moving onward? My writing. Writing is my passion, how writers "write" always excites me, and this great blogging community of agents, editors and writers is a lifeline.

So many people say to me "I couldn't find the time" ... I say, "if you love it, you make the time". And that may be at 3am.

Now, hubby is out, kids asleep, back to my MS :)

A J Hunter said...

I once said to my husband "I wish I could play golf like Tiger Woods."
His reply to me as we sat there watching the replay of the PGA golf tournment after our work shift at 8:00 p.m. was "Do you know what Tiger Woods is doing right now?"
"No." I said, I mean unless I was stalking the guy, and I'm not by way, I couldn't possibly know that.
His answer was simple, "Playing golf."
And that really got me thinking. I mean here I was watching T.V. when I should be working on my novel. Granted I work over fifty hours a week as the finance manager of a car dealership, but unless I want to spend the rest of my life buried in a windowless office looking forward to my one day of freedom every week I have to do something drastic. So I write and I write and I write. I write by hand in a notebook, I take my laptop on every vacation, I write at my computer at work (don't tell my boss) and I never stop. I ignore the dishes, the house cleaning, the laundry (until my husband informs me he's out of socks and underware) all for the sake of my writing. If there is one thing I've learned in this life it's that if you want something you have to work for it. Even after a whole day of working on the same chapter and thinking to myself this is absolute crap, this is never going to work, I should just give up this dream once and for all, I don't. I get up early the next day and keep going, because I know that I can do it. But don't get me wrong, it's not in anyway a sacrifice. The hours I spend writing and laboring over the perfect novel are an absolute joy to me and I know that with enough hard work, that some day I'll see my dream come to fruition and looking back it will all be worth it.

Unknown said...

My day job is a English teacher, and that requires me to work much more beyond the school day. How do I balance? I prioritize. There may be times when I don't get to write. But I have to do it.

Samantha Cummings said...

I'm a freelance writer during the day, and I own a unique content company, Priceless Writers. My daytime hours are spent writing non-fiction for clients.

I also have 2 children and a fiance that keep me pretty busy - factor in cooking, cleaning, baths, etc...and there's little time for anything else.

Most of the time, my writing happens at night between 10pm and 2am. Yeah, I don't get a lot of sleep. Also, when an idea is particularly persistent, I get it out...or at least a lot of it and then I find myself rushing to finish the other things that have to be done.

It's a labor of love...

joycemocha said...

I'm a teacher. Sometimes the creativity that I need for writing needs to be channeled into my teaching, especially the early weeks when I'm adjusting to what my classes are doing.

Teachers always work long hours, and we take work home. I have a big paper bag full of Day Job work waiting for me, because that has to come before writing this weekend. Sigh.

What happens is that I just don't watch TV or movies.

dianaflori said...

Oh, is this a job? No way. writing is my life. Maybe it's a make believe life but, gosh, do I really care?

Deidra said...

To MeganRebekah: You are not the only one who needs her sleep! The norm for me is about 6 hours and when I get tired, I sleep. I don't have the ability to fight it so that I can keep on doing something else. Luckily, my day job is a pretty straight 8-5 gig. My customers do tend to work non-traditional hours so it's not uncommon for me to hear from them out side my workday. I have the blackberry for that, though. Most of my writing is done on the weekends when I can commit large blocks of time to it. I use my spare time during the week for brainstorming and outlining.

J. F. Margos said...

I have such a day job. I work in the legal department of a Fortune 50 company. It is demanding. I write at nights and weekends when I'm not working, and I write on my vacation time. I write on "corporate" holidays (like Memorial Day weekend - so don't call me for BBQ and beer - I'm not leaving the house). I squeeze it in anywhere I can. I do what I have to do. Oh, and I'm sleep deprived, too. I drink lots of coffee. :)

L Coates said...

I work in the health care field so I have a varied schedule. I work twelve hour shifts, days, nights, pm's. Add the husband/family issue to it and I am a busy woman. I write whenever I can. In the early mornings or late at night. Writing is a stress release for me. My characters are a part of me. It's important to me to get their stories told. Thus I write as often as I can every day. When I'm not writing, I'm thinking about what the character is going to do next.

Anonymous said...

It's amazing the editing you can achieve in 15 min breaks at work, too.